Thursday, 8 January 2015

If... Student poems with a condition


Conditionals are a grammar point that will often get a groan, even from the grammar enthusiasts in a class. To many students they're fiddly, boring and repetitive. Exercises seem to consist of matching sentences or questions such as "What would you do if you won the lottery?". So I decided to give a class the opportunity to do something a bit more creative with conditionals, and I think we were all surprised by the results!

Friday, 7 November 2014

Letting the Idioms out of the bag

Let the cat out of the bag / Not my cup of tea / Spill the beans / Clear as mud.

The Story

Idioms have been on my mind lately.  For example, I'd been wondering how actually to define an idiom, and what idioms students really need to know.  I also had vague recollections of looking through an Academic English textbook a couple of years ago that insisted students be taught that words such as 'affluent' are idioms, because of the Latin etymology from ad+fluere = flowing towards.  While this may be linguistically accurate, it's hard for me to imagine any student being enough of a language nerd to be helped by such an approach.  Anyway, isn't all speech necessarily figurative, when we decide that a sequence of sounds represents meaning?

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Reteach, reuse, recycle - activities to help vocabulary to stick.


Confession time: reviewing vocabulary with students is not my strongest point. This isn't necessarily a problem, since many higher level classes don't need so much help: I've tended to advise students on how they can research a word online to learn pronunciation, definitions, collocations, related words and example sentences then largely leave them to it. (1)

But there are students who don't yet have these independent study skills, and generally also for lower levels much more scaffolding will be needed.

So here's a roundup of ideas and activities for reviewing vocabulary from around the web, and a few thoughts of my own.

Friday, 12 April 2013

He's sorry, he's sorry, he's so so sorry (a lesson on apologies)

You may have seen Nick Clegg apologising about increased tuition fees a few months ago.  You may also have seen how his speech was turned into a chart-topping song by a smart alec using Autotune.  (If you haven't seen either one, you may have been on a desert island somewhere.)

Anyway, this has a lot of potential for a lesson on etiquette, politics, quirks of British culture, or all of the above.  Here's how:

First of all, play the video, and ask students to listen to discover what he's apologising for.  It's possible that some students will have seen the clip before, and some of them may even know who Nick Clegg is (although I think in the average class this is unlikely!).  You could also ask them whether they think he is sincere, and why.


Wednesday, 20 February 2013

This Little Piggy went to Market...


If you're lucky enough to have a good local market, it can be an excellent destination for a class trip, providing numerous opportunities for language practice and discovery.  Here are a few ideas for activities for a market excursion:

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Great Videos part 2

This is part 2 of a short series sharing some of my favourite videos to use in class, along with a variety of suggestions for different lesson activities.  For part 1, see here.

3) Are you Typical?

What it is:
A presentation of population data from National Geographic (trust me - much more interesting than it sounds!), including working out the age, nationality and face of the 'typical' human alive at this time.


In class you could:

Saturday, 19 January 2013

2 Great Videos to use in Class

The Internet, to misquote Douglas Adams, is big. Really big. Vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big.  (And it's mostly cats).

Even if you discount the cats, there's still so much just out there that the good stuff can be hard to find, especially when it comes to video.  And if we find it, what to do with it?  We can do better than gap-fill exercises using clips of Nineties comedy shows, can't we?

So, in this and my next post I'm sharing some of my favourite videos, with a few ideas on how to use them in a language lesson.